Friday, April 28, 2006

Downloading Audiobooks From Randolph Library

I have often used books on tape and more recently books on CD, buying them or borrowing them from the library to play in the car on road trips. I have also used them at home while doing some chore that doesn't take much attention. A couple of times I have forgotten to go to the library until the morning I'm leaving on a trip and, since the library doesn't open till 9:00, I've had to leave without my "book on tape". No more! Now, in just a couple of minutes, I can download a new book via the Randolph Library online!

As of May 1 2006 any Randolph resident, landowner, or person who works in Randolph can go to the library (you must go in person) and register to participate in the program. You will need an already established eMail account (anywhere) but if you're reading this it's pretty likely you already have one. After that, it's a simple matter of logging into your account, browsing the titles available, selecting one to download, and down it comes!

You will be able to play them back from your Microsoft Windows based home computer because the included Windows Media Player can play the .wma file type that these are recorded in. If you have a PDA that can play .wma files *and* you have enough storage room on the PDA to download the book files into then you can play them on your PDA. Any PDA using the Windows Mobile or Windows CE operating system from Microsoft and others that have licensed use of a .wma audio codec from Microsoft will be able to play .wma files. Most manufacturers of MP3 players have licensed .wma codecs from Microsoft and can play .wma files.

If you want to play the audio books from your PDA through your car's stereo system, buy an inexpensive device from radio shack that looks like a cassette tape with a wire attached. You plug the wire into the PDA or MP3 player head phone jack, pop the "tape" end into your car's cassette tape player and viola! the book plays through your car stereo. If you don't have a tape player in the car there are other ways of connecting the two devices. Note that Apple has a format that competes with .wma and has so far (this is being written 4/2006) refused to include a .wma codec in it's very popular IPod music players.

.wma files are capable of being managed by digital rights software that can put limits on their use. After downloading a book from the library and before you disconnect from the Internet, you "open" the book on your computer (using Windows Media Player). The player will then, over the Internet, acquire a license. According to the Randolph Library site, " The license allows you to listen to the audiobook for 21 days and to copy it to two additional portable listening devices". When the 21 days are up you will still have the file but your player will not be able to open it. According to Leanna Povilaitis, Assistant Director of the library, "the audiobook license can be renewed once and it will play for another 21 days.".

Click here to go to the Randolph Library site and find information on this great new service.

Happy listening and thank you Randolph Library!

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